Day 7 Revisions to Fieldwork

After yesterday’s critical reflections and mulling it over during the night I decided we needed a team talk. The Brighton students had asked if they could get together in groups to discuss roles so that there was a fairer distribution of the recording and those not so technically advanced as others had a chance to learn rather than fade into the background. This struck me as a good idea so over breakfast I spoke with Jerry and Isobel and we decided to leave a little later than we had originally planned so our reflections could be aired with everyone and hear their thoughts.

Back in class I spoke with everyone (Jerry & Isobel included) taking care to state that on the whole and certainly in terms of community engagement and participatory community media practice, I was very happy and what was to follow was by no means an admonishment. I reminded everyone that we were trialling/piloting a community communications asset mapping exercise and that this was our main purpose during this fieldtrip. I know Jerry is starting to work with Isobel, and I am advising them, on developing community media modules for their curriculum. It is therefore important that the students are capable of continuing the community asset mapping when we have left so there will be elements of revision and fine tuning as we progress. I urged everyone to keep this all in mind and not to allow themselves to get carried away with the opportunity of engaging in creative media practice – although I have factored in an element of this into the work (perhaps I should have focussed solely on the research element but I don’t think their learning would have been quite so enjoyable).

I sent the students away for the 30 minutes in their groups so they could speak openly with each other. A funny thing on this note – the Brighton students who had been articulate, considered and reflective when speaking to me the night before suddenly went silent when I asked them if I had covered everything we discussed. It is interesting that despite the encouragement of their active engagement, at times there is still a sense of ‘them and us’ in their minds.  I spoke to them about this later and it turned out that they didn’t want the Kenyan students to think they were “dropping them in it”. This presents an interesting challenge because one of the main components of CM4K’s PEARLS (Partnership Education: Action Research & Learning Scenarios) approach is open and honest dialogue.

Whilst the students were in their groups I also spoke with Isobel and Jerry to see if it wasn’t possible to find a compromise about the time consuming formal protocols that had caused so many delays and put us way behind in our schedule. They agreed and said they would speak with our community contacts so they would explain to our hosts at each community asset stop. We left as soon as the students were ready. We were all soon aware once in the field that our discussions had been useful as this fieldtrip session ran so much more smoothly and everyone, as far as I could see, was sticking to their roles and working hard whilst enjoying themselves. We went back to Cham gi Wadu shopping centre for the photos we missed yesterday (more on this in tomorrow’s blog); we visited the Ongo medical centre and dispensary, the neighbouring primary school as well as the 7th Day Adventist Church next door; we then headed back to visit our old friends at Kitere Primary where we met the Chief and were asked to briefly address a parents meeting. They seemed pleased to meet us and applauded the idea of a community radio station although one vocal man seemed to think we were bringing dinner and seemed upset that we weren’t ;-).

From Kitere, which is just down the road from Campus, it was back to INFOCOMS to start sorting through our data. For some reason we were served packed lunch, which they called snacks, that they had been carrying with us on the really hot bus. I declined as there were more community members than expected and I really wasn’t hungry. No sooner was that cleared away than it was announced that lunch was ready. We looked horrified! Without causing offense we were able to convince them to keep lunch over for an early dinner, which had an added bonus for the catering staff that they could have an easy afternoon. During the afternoon one of the Kenyan students shared one of her 2 remaining samosas with me – big mistake! Those packed lunches were to come back and haunt a few of us the next day.

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